- globalization, globalization theoryGlobalization theory examines the emergence of a global cultural system. It suggests that global culture is brought about by a variety of social and cultural developments: the existence of a world-satellite information system; the emergence of global patterns of consumption and consumerism; the cultivation of cosmopolitan life-styles; the emergence of global sport such as the Olympic Games, world football competitions, and international tennis matches; the spread of world tourism; the decline of the sovereignty of the nation-state; the growth of a global military system; recognition of a world-wide ecological crisis; the development of world-wide health problems such as AIDS; the emergence of world political systems such as the League of Nations and the United Nations; the creation of global political movements such as Marxism; extension of the concept of human rights; and the complex interchange between world religions. More importantly, globalism involves a new consciousness of the world as a single place. Globalization has been described, therefore, as ‘the concrete structuration of the world as a whole’: that is, a growing awareness at a global level that ‘the world’ is a continuously constructed environment. Perhaps the most concise definition suggests that globalization is ‘a social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people are becoming increasingly aware that they are receding’ (, Globalization, 1995).Globalization is thus more than merely the sociology of international relations. It is also distinct from the world-systems theory which has analysed the growth of global economic interdependence-and which claims that cultural globalism is simply the consequence of economic globalism. It is also important to avoid confusing the globalization thesis with an earlier argument about the convergence of nation-states towards a unified and coherent form of industrial society. Contemporary globalization theory argues that globalization comprises two entirely contradictory processes of homogenization and differentiation; that there is a complex interaction between localism and globalism; and that there are powerful movements of resistance against globalization processes.The proponents of the argument are critical of traditional sociology which continues to focus on the nation-state rather than the world as a system of societies. However, there are problems with globalization theory. What, for example, is the distinction between globalization and modern patterns of imperialism ? There are also difficulties in specifying the relationships between economic and cultural globalization, and between globalization and modernization . Both the theory and its problems are well illustrated in the essays collected in, Globalization, Knowledge and Society (1990).Globalism increasingly became part of the conventional wisdom of sociologists during the 1990s. Almost every subject of sociological interest that could be given a global gloss was so endowed. Thus, for example, in a single issue of the journalContemporary Sociology (September 1996), there were reviews of books on such diverse subjects as the Women's Movement, the international economy, biological reproduction, immigration, apartheid, racism, the forest products industry, transnational corporations, the production and distribution of food, central banks and international monetary arrangements, American foreign policy, the growth of Third World cities, and value-change in advanced societies-all of which contained the words ‘global’, ‘globalization’, or ‘globalism’ in their titles.It is undoubtedly true that, on a planet in which the same fashion accessories (such as designer training-shoes) are manufactured and sold across every continent, one can send and receive electronic mail from the middle of a forest in Brazil, eat McDonald's hamburgers in Moscow as well as Manchester, and pay for all this using a Mastercard linked to a bank account in Madras, then the world does indeed appear to be increasingly ‘globalized’. However, the excessive use of this term as a sociological buzzword had largely emptied it of analytical and explanatory value, as a perusal of many of the studies mentioned above will reveal. See also commodity chains ; cybersociety ; development, sociology of ; environment ; flexible employment ; flexible work ; international division of labour ; Internet ; multinational corporation ; neo-colonialism.
Dictionary of sociology. 2013.